Performance Year: 2024
Cuban-American playwright Nilo Cruz gained national prominence in 2003 when he won the Pulitzer Prize for drama for his play Anna in the Tropics for which he also received a Tony Award nomination. The immigrant experience is a common theme in many of Cruz’s plays, and he has become known for his ability to successfully weave strains of magic realism and other literary traditions into his works.
In addition to the Pulitzer, he has received numerous awards, including those from the Kennedy Center Fund, American Theatre Critics, and the Humana Festival for New American Plays as well as grants from the National Endowment of the Arts and the Rockefeller Foundation.
His plays include Dancing on Her Knees, A Park in Our House, Two Sisters and a Piano, A Bicycle Country, Hortensia and the Museum of Dreams, Lorca in a Green Dress, Beauty of the Father, Hurricane, and A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings as well as translations of Doña Rosita the Spinster, The House of Bernarda Alba, Life Is a Dream, and ¡Ay, Carmela! His work has been seen at numerous theaters around the country, including South Coast Rep, the Mark Taper Forum, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Washington D.C.’s Studio Theatre, and New York’s Public Theater and around the world in Canada, England, France, Australia, Germany, Belarus, Costa Rica, Colombia, Japan, and Spain.
As a lyricist, he is a frequent collaborator with composer Gabriela Lena Frank. He has written the libretti for The Conquest Requiem and The Santos Oratorio for Ms. Frank and the text of orchestral songs La Centinela y la paloma. Cruz also adapted Ann Patchett’s 2001 novel Bel Canto for the Lyric Opera of Chicago with music by Peruvian composer Jimmy López and recently premiered the oratorio Dreamers by López at Cal Performance in Berkeley, California.
Cruz, who received an M.F.A. from Brown University and an honorary doctorate degree from Whittier College, has twice previously served as a playwright-in-residence: in 2000 for the McCarter Theatre, in Princeton, N.J. and in 2001 for the New Theatre in Coral Gables, Florida, which commissioned Anna in the Tropics. Cruz also taught drama at Yale, Brown, and the University of Iowa. During the 2019/20 academic year, he was the Hearst Theater Lab Initiative Distinguished Visiting Playwright-in-Residence at the UCLA School of Theater, Film, and Television. He is a member of the New Dramatists.